Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I was all set to think about moorings this morning — they're important! But first I walked down the hill to see my hair guy, as it's also important to combat the gray. And while I was sitting there (with goo in my hair) flipping through today's Times, I was heartened ... not by the prospect of diminished grayness so much as the news that voters in San Francisco have decided that cell phone retailers should print the amount of radiation emitted from wireless devices in no smaller than 11-point type on nearby signage. That's important and logical ... and scary, like so many things, especially given the invisible nature of the risk. Or so it struck me.

Then my eyes (still getting by without reading glasses) traveled down a few inches to a photo of a pale-green fence by the rocky shore, and I thought, "Hey, that looks like the Cliff Walk."

It was the Cliff Walk. Click here to see the article. But it was far from heartening to read that a lawsuit has been brought back-to-life whereby the plaintiff faults the City of Newport (and State of RI) for an accident in which he fell onto the rocks from a dirt path off the paved walkway a decade ago and was paralyzed. On his honeymoon, no less. That's awful, dreadful, tragic; I feel nothing but the sincerest sympathy and vicarious sadness (to the point of horror) for that plaintiff and his family.

But can such an accident possibly be deemed anyone's fault other than the person who chose to stray from the paved, prescribed, public pathway?? Is it really Newport's fault that he fell because that particular visibly-eroded slope with rocks looming beneath didn't have a sign saying "danger" or some such thing?? Doesn't it go without saying that venturing off-piste on overgrown goat paths (or drainage ditches) that tumble down steep hillsides is dangerous??

Seriously — and I in no way intend to make light — I followed just such a path the other day. It may have been the very same path. And I knew it wasn't smart. Worse, I was wearing flip-flops as I ventured down for a better view of some quasi-inspirational graffiti on a concrete wall beneath the Cliff Walk. I'd actually seen the kids painting the graffiti a few days earlier, as they stood there on that ledge and I peered over the side however dizzily. But I was hard-pressed to see precisely what they were writing, so I returned and went (slid) down for a closer look. And since it was low tide, I hung out with the precariously-perched denizens of that generally mucky habitat for a little while before climbing back up and continuing on my way to First Beach, where I could look back to where I'd been.

But that's not the point. Not today. Not in light of what I read. It's just all (all) so upsetting. And much is at risk ...